Student Conversations

Editor’s Note:

I am frequently asked by alums and parents to reflect on the campus conversation – what are students talking about? What’s important to them?

So I sat down with 15 students, some of whom I knew in advance and others I had never met. Consistent with the theme of this magazine, I specifically asked them about campus conversations.

Without exception, students were thoughtful in their responses. These are young people thinking seriously about their identities and their careers, and how they define a life of consequence. They were open about their disappointments – the desire for more inclusion campus-wide, for example. Others talked about their personal struggles and how those have influenced their view of our community.

What came through clearly: their gratitude for their education, their knowledge that in voicing their opinions that change can happen, and their excitement for the future.

Although the students profiled here do not represent every viewpoint of the student body, they do provide a snapshot of the campus conversation.

—Catherine Williams
Editor, Vice President for Communications

Kimberly Gutierrez '17
Los Angeles, Calif.

Double major in sociology and women’s studies, minor in public policy; intern in Creative and Story Department at Warner Bros. Pictures; president of William Smith Congress; president of Women’s Collective; member of the first Posse cohort at HWS; member of the Race and Racism Coalition; vice president of PeaceAction@HWS; member of social justice theatre troupe Mosaic; led effort to establish HWS Career Closet; ran a youth leadership college at a local Geneva school; will travel to South Africa as part of the Beyond Borders global leadership program

Vincent Creer '17
Long Beach, Calif.

Double major in LGBT studies and women’s studies; Druid; secretary of Hobart Student Government; member of the first Posse cohort at HWS; studied abroad in Vietnam; member of Koshare Dance Collective, Queer People of Color House, Sexual Violence Task Force, Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy Working Group and Budget Allocation Committee; research assistant at HWS Center for Teaching and Learning; assistant program coordinator for Pride Center of Vermont

VC: We are best friends.

KG: We met officially during the third round of the Posse application process. We sat next to each other and talked about dorms.

VC: We hit it off.

KG: It was a nerve-racking day of interviews and I remember going home and telling my mother that I met a friend.

VC: Then we both were selected for HWS.

KG: During Orientation, Amy Forbes had an event in the Centennial Center for Leadership. This became our place.

VC: Every weekday, you can find us here. We debrief on our day and dive into our work. We call it ‘Real Talk.’

KG: This entire campus – it’s strange to me. I’m from a city with a Hispanic population. The first night I was here – there were no cars, no air planes, no horns. Nothing was the same. The language wasn’t the same.

VC: Kim is what made me feel connected. If I didn’t have Kim, I don’t know what I would have done. I thought I wanted to be an architect or engineer. My first semester, I pretended I was into it but honestly, I didn’t like it at all.

KG: We’ve been working through that.

VC: And Kim is going to law school.

KG: I’m thinking about it. I was blessed with first-year classes that met my interests. In class, we had conversations about gender and social norms. This was the first time I found a space where my experiences as a woman of color were validated.

VC: My classes changed my trajectory. Before, school had never been a place to learn about identity. But taking a class on, for example, the history of marginalized groups, was extraordinary.

KG: I was raised to believe that the only person you have is yourself. I see some value in that perspective but there are drawbacks. I now find hope in the collective. I find hope through people coming together, talking about change and mobilizing.

VC: When I came to the Colleges, I knew I was gay. My family was cool with that but I worried about whether or not HWS would be able to support me. I find classes that look at sexuality, gender identity and race to be very healing.

KG: I agree.

VC: We are building community but the conversations at HWS are not intersectional. When I go to the Pride Alliance meetings, I’m the only person of color. When I go to Sankofa meetings, I’m the only queer person. It can be frustrating. Sometimes, you need someone who will just hug you and listen.

KG: That’s who you are for me.

VC: And that’s who you are for me.

ABOUT POSSE: In 2012, HWS established a partnership with Posse, one of the most successful college access and youth leadership development programs in the country. Ten students go to college together to act as a support system for one another, bolstering collegiate success and graduation rates. The Colleges have three Posse cohorts on campus, all from Los Angeles.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.